One dead, tourists stranded as New Zealand volcano erupts

phys.org | 8/20/2013 | Staff
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A volcano that erupted without warning on a New Zealand island popular with tourists killed one person and stranded at least two dozen more Monday, with rescues too dangerous to attempt and police warning the death toll will likely rise.

Around 50 people, including cruise passengers and foreigners, were believed to be on or around White Island at the time it erupted. Police said 23 have come back.

Fatality - Commissioner - John - Tims - Number

"I can confirm there is one fatality," said deputy commissioner John Tims. "There is a number still remaining on the island who are currently unaccounted for," he added.

"At this stage, it is too dangerous for police and rescue services to go to the island."

Eruption - GMT - Plume - Ash - Kilometres

The eruption occurred at 2:11pm (0111 GMT), thrusting a thick plume of white ash 3.6 kilometres (12,000 feet) into the sky.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed some of those caught up in the disaster were foreigners. "We know that there were a number of tourists on or around the island at the time, both New Zealanders and visitors from overseas."

Police - Contact - Survivors - Island - Close

Police indicated there had been no contact with any survivors and injured still left on the island and with nightfall close at hand, they face the prospect of a long night waiting for rescue.

There were particular fears for a group of visitors seen walking on the crater floor moments before the eruption occurred.

Cameras - Feed - Volcano - Dozen - People

Cameras providing a live feed from the volcano showed more than half a dozen people trekking inside the rim before images went dark.

Others, including tourist Michael Schade, made it off just in time and were able to capture footage of the devastation.

Videos - Groups - Tourists - Shoreline - Ground

His videos showed groups of startled tourists clustered by the shoreline, waiting to be evacuated as the ground around them smouldered, the sky filled with white debris and an ash-caked helicopter lying damaged nearby.

Further in the distance, the caldera was...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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